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The following post is by Justin Butlion, Content and Social Marketing Manager at Yotpo.
Why social commerce will become the eCommerce standard
The eCommerce industry, like every other industry online, has been shaken up by the socialization of the web and the explosion in smart phone adoption across the world. The industry as a whole has benefited from the billion or so people that have connected online in the last 5 years but overall has been slow to integrate and leverage the numerous social tools and networks available. In this post I will focus on this hesitation and make an argument for why those that decide to adopt social commerce principles will be around to tell the story, and welcome in a new era, where social commerce becomes the eCommerce standard.
We have changed with the times
The average internet surfer’s behavior online today is very different to how it was 5 years ago. Not only has the time we are spending online gone up but how we are using our time has fundamentally changed. A large percentage of our time is spent engaging with our peers on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Path, Pinterest and many other social networks and it is this shift which has changed everything.
The average American spends over 6 hours on Facebook every month. During that time he or she is exposed to literally thousands of posts by friends, family and acquaintances. In order to cope with the constant flow of information we have developed strong filters and essentially we have become blind to most forms of advertising and branding that we are exposed to online.
This information overload has changed how we filter information and made it tougher for brands to stand out but when they do it is usually through a recommendation by a friend.
Why recommendations will continue to be a driving force
It is in our nature to listen to our peers because when we were still working out how fire worked, if we didn’t, we would die. A true and tested way to filter out bad information has always been to ask our closest friends and family and it is this innate behavior that helps drive the recommendation economy.
The real power of recommendations, and in particular social recommendations has been well documented. Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are bringing large numbers of visitors to online stores and generally have a better conversion rate than search or direct traffic.
Many startups are popping up in this area as social commerce continues to grow from strength to strength. The combination of social and ecommerce and tying them together with big data and smart analytics is a very interesting prospect that has many entrepreneurs interested. The startup that can map the social commerce graph of the Internet and build powerful marketing tools that leverages these insights will have massive power and influence in the industry.
The power of the community
Social media has made the world much more transparent to what both companies and the general public were used to. The fact is that individuals adapt much quicker than organizations and this creates an interesting dynamic in the business world. Because people adapted to social media and some companies saw the shifting winds and started to embrace the numerous tools rather than dismiss them as fads, we became used to seeing some of our favorite brands speaking on a one-on-one basis to their fans. This shift from companies simply pushing advertising down our throats to a more equal relationship where there was much more listening going on resulted in a shift in our expectations towards brands.
Companies which have embraced social media and focused on building strong communities not only have a strong competitive advantage because of the “social market share” they control, but also have a community of loyal fans marketing their brands on a regular basis. Companies like Starbucks, Whole Foods and Oreo are some of the companies which have had the most success with social media but any brand as obscure as you can imagine can still benefit from social media.
You can’t survive as a business without changing with the times
The shifts in our behaviors and perceptions online have created a world dominated by our desire for interconnectedness and expression. The Internet has become a social Internet and will continue to stay social as we try and humanize everything around us. The companies that make the decision to integrate social within their business activities will be more likely to be around for the next major shift online.
Survival in business has always been about being able to change with the times, and this is even more important online because things move at a much faster pace. Embrace the social web, invest in it, and leverage it to build a better, stronger and faster growing business.